Canoe Building


Canoe Life

Polynesian Migrations

Spring 1995: Na 'Ohana Holo Moana
To Nukuhiva, Marquesas Islands, (April 5-18)

Photo right: Taiohae Bay, Nukuhiva, Marquesas Islands

April 5, 1995; 5 a.m., HST

photo of Taiohae Bay, Nukuhiva, Marquesas Islands The fleet of Polynesian canoes is planning/hoping to leave Tautira at 12 noon today. Yesterday a heavy rainstorm prevented departure. At last count, seven canoes will be sailing to Taiohae, Nukuhiva.

Hokule'a (Hawai'i; 62 ft. [52 ft. at waterline]; double masted)
Navigator/Captain: Chad Baybayan
Escort Boat: Gershon II/Steve Kornberg, Captain

Hawai'iloa (Hawai'i; 57 ft.; double masted)
Navigator/Captain: Bruce Blankenfeld
Escort Boat: Kama Hele/Alex Jacubenko, Captain

Makali'i (Hawai'i; 54 ft.; single masted)
Navigator: Shorty Bertelmann
Captain: Clay Bertelmann
Escort Boat: Goodewind/Terry Causey, Captain

Te 'Aurere (Aotearoa; 57 ft.; double masted) Navigators: Jacko Thatcher and Piripi Evans
Captain: Stanley Conrad
Escort Boat: Rizaldar/Randy Wichman, Captain

Te 'Au o Tonga (Rarotonga; 72 ft.; double masted)
Navigators: Tua Pittman (Rarotonga) and Pe'ia Tua'ati (Mauke)
Escort Boat: Three Daughters

Takitumu (Rarotonga; Main hull: 53 ft.; 2nd hull: 49 ft.; single masted)
Navigators: May be navigated with modern equipment.
Escort Boat: Name not known.

The 750 miles sail/tow from Tautira to Taiohae is expected to take about 8 days. (The presents winds will allow the canoes to sail 100-200 miles to the southwest of Nukuhiva, from where they may have to tow in. While the canoes could tack toward the islan d, the schedule of events on Nukuhiva requires the canoes to be in Taiohae by April 12, so towing may be necessary. Estimated day of arrival is April or 12 13.

Over the last two days, the crews have been loading bananas, coconuts, and other fresh fruits from the village of Tautira, and going over safety procedures.

Clyde Aikau, brother of Eddie Aikau, is scheduled to join the crew of Hokule'a in Nukuhiva. Eddie, a lifeguard and surfer, was lost at sea in 1978 when Hokule'a capsized south of Moloka'i. As the disabled canoe was drifting away from the islands, Aikau we nt on his surfboard for help and was never seen again. The incident prompted several changes in modern voyaging practices; for example, the Hawaiian canoes never sail without escort boats today and are equipped with modern communication and tracking devic es.

April 7, 1995. 6 a.m., HST

Hawai'iloa, Makali'i, and Te 'Aurere left Tautira on Wednesday, April 5, under tow. There are no winds. Even when the canoes are towing, the navigation by traditional methods continues. The navigator(s) on board the canoe set the direction for the escort boats. Hawai'iloa and Te 'Aurere were being towed by one escort boat: Alex Jacubenko's Kama Hele, which has a huge engine. They are travelling at about 4.5 knots and making about 100 miles a day.

Hokule'a and Te 'Au o Tonga left Tautira on Thursday, April 6. Crew members said they were not sure about the status of the two Tahitian canoes, which did not leave with the rest of the fleet.

April 8, 1995

At 7:30 a.m. on April 8, the first group of canoes (Hawai'iloa, Makali'i, Te 'Aurere, Takitumu) were clear of the Tuamotu islands and heading NE toward Nukuhiva, with about 420 miles to go. An ARGOS satellite reading placed them at 13 degrees 30 minutes S , 145 degrees 20 minutes W. They were still under tow. At the current rate of speed, they would make Nukuhiva sometime around Tuesday or Wednesday, April 11 or 12. Hokule'a and Te 'Au o Tonga were just clearing the channel betwen Rangiroa and Arutua in th e Tuamotus (15 degrees 18 minutes S, 146 degrees 58 minutes W), heading NE; they are about 140 miles behind the other canoes. They had found some light winds and were sailing at about 4-5 knots. They should arrive in Nukuhiva one day after the first group .

The two Tahitian canoes (Tahiti Nui and 'A'a Kahiki Nui) were reportedly planning to leave Pape'ete on Friday, April 7. No word as to whether they actually have left or not.

April 9, 1995

Hawai'iloa, with Te 'Aurere, Makali'i, and Takitumu, continued on their NE course toward Nukuhiva. At 7 a.m., they were at 12 degrees 22 minutes S; 144 degrees 02 minutes W, about 310 nautical miles from Nukuhiva. Current speed: 3 knots.

Hokule'a, with Te 'Au o Tonga, had cleared the Tuamotus, travelling at 4 knots toward the NE. At 7 a.m., they were at 13 degrees 47 minutes S; 145 degrees 47 minutes W, about 442 nautical miles from Nukuhiva.

Still no news about whether the Tahitian canoes had left Pape'ete.

April 10, 1995

At 11 a.m., Hawai'iloa was about 200 miles SE from Nukuhiva at 11 degrees 12 minutes S, 142 degrees 43 minutes W; Hokule'a about 370 miles SE of Nukuhiva at 12 degrees 31 minutes S, 144 degrees 38 minutes W. Estimated arrival for Hawai'iloa: Wednesday, April 12; Estimated arrival for Hokule'a: Thursday, April 13.

Makali'i is no longer carrying a satellite tranponders, so position reports are not available for this canoe. However, the canoe left Tautira a few hours after Hawai'iloa and should be somewhere between Hawai'iloa and Hokule'a.

According to the Honolulu Advertiser, Tahiti Nui left Papeete under tow to Nukuhiva.

April 11, 1995

At 7 a.m., Hawai'iloa was 103 miles from Nukuhiva (10 degrees 8 minutes S; 141 degrees 21 minutes W), travelling at 4 knots. It should sight one of the isles of Hiva on the morning of April 12. "Hiva" is the name used in oral traditions to refer to the islands which include Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa (See Peter Buck, "Vikings of the Sunrise," later retitled "Vikings of the Pacific.") "Marquesas" is a shortened version of "Las Marquesas de Mendoca," a name given to these islands by Alvara Mendana de Neyra, the Spanish explorer who bumped into the southern islands in 1595. (See "Isles of Hiva" for a brief introduction to these islands.)

At 7 a.m., Hokule'a was about 241 miles from Nukuhiva (11 degrees 12 minutes S; 143 degrees, 28 minutes W), travelling at 4 knots. It won't reach the isles of Hiva until Thursday, April 13.

At 11:30 a.m., Ka'au McKenney reported that Hokule'a was under tow. The weather was mild, with 10 knot easterly, northeasterly winds and seas about 3 feet. The fishing has been good: two ahi were caught the day before.

April 12, 1995

Hawai'iloa, Te 'Aurere, and Te 'Au o Tonga arrived at Taipi Vai at 9 p.m. last night. This bay 5 miles east of Taiohae on the southern coast of Nukuhiva was made notorious to American and European readers by Herman Melville's 19th century novel "Typee" (i.e., Taipi). The valley was noted for its fierce tatooed warriors. Melville was horrified by the apparently ritualistic practice of cannibalism he discovered there.

Today Taipa Vai is a small town with a population of one or two hundred people. Subsistence farming and fishing, supplemented by a small tourist trade, are practiced there. The valley is long, deep, and green, the most well-watered in the isles of Hiva . The easterly trade winds bring abundant rainfall, which feeds a large stream that empties into the bay of Taipi Vai. The bay provides relatively safe anchorage.

The dense forests are filled with rock platforms and walls built by the thousands of people who once lived in the valley. Many feel victim to western diseases in the 19th century.

At the back of the valley are some spectacular waterfalls. A dirt/rock road winds and climbs through the valley and over the high mountains at the back, then descends to the beautiful valley of Hatiheu on north coast. A dirt road also connects Taipi Va i with Taiohae, the administrative center of the isles of Hiva and the site for welcoming the visiting fleet of canoes, which will move to Taiohae once all of the canoes have arrived.

At 7 a.m. this morning, Hokule'a was 157 miles from Nukuhiva (10 degrees 1 minutes S; 142 degrees 31 minutes W). Hokule'a, Makali'i, and Takitumu should arrive tomorrow. Tahiti Nui is also in route to Nukukhiva.

April 13, 1995

Hokule'a was about 73 miles from Nukuhiva at 7 a.m. this morning. It should arrive sometime this evening. The canoes apparently intend to rendezvous in the bay of Taipi Vai, then sail downwind together along the coast to the bay of Taiohae for welcomin g ceremonies. The U-shaped bay of Taiohae, opening south on the southern coast of Nukuhiva, is the most well protected anchorage in the isles of Hiva, providing shelter except from southerly winds.

April 15, 1995

The entire fleet of canoes should be anchored in Taiohae Bay today. Yesterday the canoes that had reached Taiohae by 8 a.m. were welcomed by the residents. At noon, the town observed Good Friday; at 4 p.m. the annual procession from the pier to the Cat hedral of Notre Dame took place.

Nukuhiva is the main island of the northern Marquesas Islands. Its population is about 2100. Its surface area is 129 sq. miles, about the size of the island of Lana'i in the Hawaiian islands. Taiohae is its main town, with a small, but modern commercia l center (stores, banks, government offices) and four or five small hotels (6-15 rooms).

Schedule for Nukuhiva Events:

April 15, Saturday

7 p.m.: Easter Mass at the Catholic Church (99 % of the population in the Marquesas is Catholic.)

April 16, Sunday

8 a.m.: Religious ceremony at the Cathedral
9 a.m.: Religious ceremony at the Temple
3:30 p.m.: Folkloric Dances performed by delegations and the dance group of Taiohae.

April 17, Monday

Sunrise: Preparation of canoes for departure
8 a.m.: Departure ceremony
10 a.m.: Departure of canoes and escort boats for Hawai'i

April 18, 1995

According to a Honolulu Advertiser report (from correspondent Bob Krauss in Taiohae, Nukuhiva) the latest plan is for the canoe fleet to leave in two groups. Leaving tomorrow, April 19, will be: Hawai'iloa (Hawai'i), Makali'i (Hawai'i), Te 'Aurere (New Z ealand), and Te 'Au o Tonga (Cook Islands)

Hokule'a, which is ready to go, will remain in Taiohae to assist Tahiti Nui (Tahiti) and Takitumu (Cooks Islands) in preparing to sail to Hawai'i. This second group of canoes will leave when all three canoes are ready to go; or if it is determined that any canoe(s) can't go, the other canoe or canoes will go.

At yesterday's ceremonies, Clyde Aikau made a speech in memory of his brother Eddie, a well known surfer and life guard, who was lost at sea when Hokule'a swamped in heavy seas and gale force winds south of the island of Moloka'i in 1978. Aikau said he had been "invited to make the voyage to Hawai'i to complete the cycle of his . . . brother's voyaging."

Also at the ceremonies were a contingent of Kamehameha Schools students who presented a program of traditional song and dance on Sunday, and the hula halau Maui Nui o Kama (a dance trouple from the island of Maui), which chanted "E ala e" for an hour b efore dawn on Monday to bring the sun out of the east over the low eastern mountains of Taiohae bay.